I bet that if you ask a few people on the street if honey is a vegan product, they will say yes without hesitation.
The truth is, there are many well-funded reasons to why vegans don't eat honey, and you may find some of this very curious.
Join us! As we will explain every detail of why vegans don't consider honey as a consumable item! We also have a few alternatives to this delicious sweetener that you may want to check out.
What Are Vegans and What Do They Eat?
Well, you may think of them as a group of people that don't eat meat or dairy. In reality, being vegan engulfs much more than that.
To begin with, you may want to know the real definition of vegan. It can be best described as a lifestyle or a diet which excludes eggs, meat, and dairies.
There are also some vegans that try to avoid any food that may have been processed with animal products such as some wines.
Being vegan becomes a way of living because of the strict diet, but there are many different positive aspects to this.
This diet helps prevent cancer and many cardiovascular diseases for example. It has also been known to be an excellent treatment for Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
But some aspects are not so positive about this. For example, this lifestyle may become a bit stricter than you could think. Some vegans take it a bit too far, and this is never a good thing.
There are some cases in which vegans avoid any kind of leather or fur, taking their lifestyle way beyond a diet.
You will also see that there are certain products that they will try to avoid, even if it may seem a bit ridiculous. And, a perfect example of this is honey.
Why is Honey Not Really Vegan?
This may seem a bit of excessive, but there are some things about honey production that you may not know.
As you may know, honey is produced by bees. These honey bees have to visit thousands of flowers during their life, just to provide less than a gram of honey.
To complete a whole gram of honey, you need thousands of bees and a lot of time, but this is what keeps them alive.
There are many honey bees undisturbed, but there are many other colonies of bees that are bred specially to create honey for specific companies.
This is a normal process since many people consume honey every day. The problem arises when the beekeepers are not very ethical on their way of treating these bees.
Now, we will look at some common reasons as to why Vegans avoid honey;
Honey Removal Trait
Yes, these colonies are bred to create more honey in the least amount of time. If treated properly there is no problem with that.
The question comes when it’s time to remove the honey.
Once they remove it, they substitute the honey for sugar and water. While this keeps the bees at bay, this compound does not have the same nutrients as their natural honey.
Another important aspect of beekeeping is the selective breeding that the bees go through.
They are always looking for the best colonies to harvest on, but this means that colonies are more susceptible to many diseases.
This creates a significant problem, since these ill bees travel to other colonies just to continue spreading the disease, and finally terminating entire colonies.
Within time, this problem could increase exponentially, until most beehives are infected with these illnesses.
While the biggest beehives may go through this, many others won’t be able to keep up.
Tampering with Queen Bees
Finally, one of the worst things they do is to clip the wings on the queen bees.
Once the queen senses danger, she will probably fly elsewhere to begin a new colony, but if the queen bee deserts a colony, most of the population on that colony goes behind her.
This means that if the queen bee flies away, beekeepers have fewer bees to work with.
If by any reason the queen bee dies or leaves the colony, they replace it for a younger queen, which still attracts many bees.
For those bees that are not being used for industrial purposes, winter is a breeze. They just stay in their hives consuming a significant portion of the honey they have been harvesting throughout all year.
They are less productive, so the honey production decreases.
But the bees that are used in industrial beekeeping don't have such a good time. Farmers still remove all of the honey that they produce, this is the reason why they are keeping the bees after all, right?
Well, this may be an enormous problem.
Usually, during winter, bees use their honey to stay healthy. Since the farmers remove all of the honey from their homes, they don't have this advantage.
Yeah, they are fed with the sugar-water compound, but then again this is not enough to keep all the bees healthy, and farmers know that very well.
Because of this, they decide to cull or remove a portion of the colony. In the roughest winters, almost half of the colonies that they use are slaughtered.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Well, the easy answer is yes, there are some other sweeteners that you could use such as maple syrup. The complicated answer can be maybe, depending on how much are you willing to play in the grey area.
You have undoubtedly seen a lot of small honey producers or natural honey producers.
These are beekeepers that have better practices, and in many cases, they make sure that the bees are not harmed during each every step of the honey making process.
Yeah, the honey still comes from the bees, but these farmers make sure that they are always healthy by making sure that they don't eradicate the honey for example.
As you may see, the honey industry is more worried on making money than creating a safe environment for bees to grow in, and this is why many vegans keep themselves from consuming any form of honey.
But even the most dedicated vegans can find an alternative for the natural and delicious sweetener that honey is.